Seven reasons to try ‘Genius Hour’ in your classroom

Graham Andre

Graham is a primary school teacher working on the Isle of Wight. Most recently Graham was seen working with his class on the (now BAFTA nominated!) BBC2 documentary ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free’. Through this documentary, he has been invited to speak on national TV and live events to talk about its impact and his role with The GEC. Graham has always worked in the education sector, starting as a teaching assistant and having various roles before doing a part-time degree and completing his GTP six years ago.

Follow @grahamandre

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Now that the new year and new term is well underway, how about trying something new in your classroom? How about trying ‘Genius Hour’?

Genius Hour originated from ‘Google 20% Time’, which was an initiative that allowed the company’s employees to work on their own projects for 20% of their working week. This initiative was then adapted and brought into schools as Genius Hour (it is also called 20% time, Passion Project and Innovation Hour), and did the same for learners.

YouTube link

I have worked with several classes and age groups promoting Genius Hour in my own school, and others and have loved the journey and stories Genius Hour has created for many children and teachers. In the time-honoured medium of a countdown (in no particular order) I am going to tell you why it may be a good idea to try Genius Hour in your school.

7. Find out about your children

Now, I thought I knew my children pretty well. Little did I know that I had a keen fisherman and a milkshake connoisseur in the class until we started Genius Hour. Both children created blogs about their interests and revealed talents I otherwise may not have known. During the Genius Hour process you can find out many things about your children and how they work.

6. Allow your children to be creative

With the National Curriculum, as well as an ever-growing list of standards to achieve, creativity can often be hard to squeeze in to the working week. Give up an hour a week, and your children may create amazing things. Imagine having an hour a week yourself to pursue your own interest or passion, then allow your children that time and see what happens. Your children will be fully immersed in their own personalised learning.

5. Your children become educators

Your children will not only learn from and teach each other, but you will learn from your children. Since starting Genius Hour I have learnt how to make Loom Band bracelets, create an app, and play Minecraft; I’ve memorised the lyrics to ‘Let it Go’, been educated on the history of Sonic the Hedgehog… the list goes on. Embrace Genius Hour and allow your children to be educators.

4. Speaking and Listening (Spoken Language)

"Imagine having an hour a week yourself to pursue your own interest or passion, then allow your children that time and see what happens."

At the end of the Genius Hour project, each child has to present their project or findings in whichever way they choose. Some use Powerpoint, some have posters or books, others just talk and show. This process is a great way to assess ‘spoken language’ skills, but also the confidence shown by children will grow. A young girl in my class called Chloe was very shy, especially outside her class of peers, but because she was very passionate and knowledgeable about her project (creating dresses for Frozen’s Elsa) she presented her dresses with great confidence, not only to her class but to the children in the EYFS as well. During the process peers are very supportive, showing real collaboration, support and teamwork.

3. Preparing for Life-Long Learning

Genius Hour is a great way for children to prepare for life after school. They have to work to a deadline - after the 6 weeks of a term, the project (finished or not) must be presented and a new project is started. Children may encounter barriers to their projects, but they must find a way to overcome these, they must show resilience and stickability to find an answer to problems. Children may make mistakes, things may go wrong, but that is all part of the learning, if we learn from these mistakes then they can be valuable life-long lessons.

2. Covering many areas of the curriculum.

During Genius Hour your children will use skills in: literacy, numeracy, ICT, music, PSHE, science, geography, coding, spelling, handwriting, history, art, design technology etc etc. Not all projects will cover all of these areas, but you can be sure they will hit at least 3 or 4.

1. It is fun!

Children enjoy working on their own passions and interests, and because of this they find it fun. There is rarely a behaviour problem during Genius Hour and it will soon become the children’s favourite part of the week.

I really do believe that Genius Hour has a place in our schools, and could well transform the learning and mood in your class. If you would like to know more about Genius Hour there are some super websites available. See more at the and the Live Binders website.

There is also my blog showing pictures and my experience of trialling Genius Hour. If you would like to ask me any questions, or I can come to your school, please get in touch (see bio)! Thank you for reading, and remember:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Maya Angelou

Have you brought Genius Hour into your classroom? Share your experiences below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"